Minnetonka High boys hockey coach Brian Urick was disheartened with his team’s 5-1 loss to Section 6AA rival Benilde-St. Margaret’s Jan. 12, but it didn’t take him long to recover.
“We played a pretty decent hockey game,” he said. “In the first period, we outshot Benilde 12-8, but came out of it trailing 3-0. I thought we peppered them pretty good, but we couldn’t put one in. It was one of those nights.”
BSM is coached by former Minnetonka head coach Ken Pauly, who once served as Urick’s coaching mentor. Sure they have a rivalry, but at the same time there’s a lot of mutual respect.
“Benilde’s first line is really skilled, and they buried their chances,” said Urick.
Grant Besse, the leader of that line, dented the Tonka defense for two goals and two assists, while Dan Labosky, who also skates on that big line, had four assists.
Minnetonka fell behind 5-0 before finally getting on the board in the third period when Connor Thie converted a pass from Max Coatta.
“It is always tough to lose a game 5-1,” said Urick. “But at the same time, no one wins a championship in January. Benilde’s goalie played really well.”
When the playoffs roll around in late February, there’s a good chance Minnetonka and BSM will face off again, so what did Urick learn from the first meeting?
“We always have to be aware of where those [first line] players are on the ice,” he said. “If we rush from the back, we have to make sure they’re not sneaking in behind us.”
In its other game last week, Minnetonka fired on all cylinders during a 6-0 rout of the Chanhassen Storm.
“One thing that impressed me was how hard Chanhassen played,” said Urick. “They don’t have the talent we have, but they competed. We just kept throwing the puck at their goalie.”
Coatta was the offensive leader for Minnetonka with a goal and two assists. Jared Ridge, Tommy Brandabur, Charlie Huminski, Tommy Vannelli and Jimmy Schuldt also had goals for the Skippers.
Paul Ciaccio had a relatively calm night in the Tonka net as he made 10 saves to earn the victory. With the win the Skippers improved to 9-4-1 overall. Benilde improved to 10-3-0 overall.
One of the biggest games of the year for the Skippers is on the docket for this week. They will play Lake Conference rival Edina at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, at Braemar Arena.
Edina opened the season as the second-ranked team in the state and could move back into the No. 1 spot this week after Wayzata beat last week’s No. 1, Hill-Murray, 3-1, Jan. 12.
Urick is more worried about his team’s performance than he is the rankings at this point. His concern is the Lake Conference schedule, and after that he will turn his attention to the Section 6AA tourney, which is loaded with strong teams. Included in the section are BSM, Tonka, Wayzata and Eden Prairie. An improving Hopkins club could also be a factor at playoff time.
Contact John Sherman at email@example.com